Thousands march in Hong Kong over proposed extradition law change
HONG KONG: Thousands of people protested in Hong Kong yesterday against a government plan to change extradition laws, fearing an erosion of personal freedom and the city's status as an international business hub.
The government proposal would grant the city's leader executive power to send fugitives to jurisdictions not covered by existing arrangements, including mainland China and Taiwan.
Protest organisers said 12,000 people hit the streets yesterday, while police estimated the crowd at 5,200 at its peak.
"Hong Kong people all have to bear the negative consequence of this ordinance. This carries the risk of personal freedom being restricted," Mr Lam Wing Kee, a bookseller who said in 2016 he was detained by Chinese agents, told the crowd.
The government said last week it will present the amendments to legislators on Wednesday.
The planned changes have been strongly opposed by some lawmakers, legal and rights groups who fear it could be exploited by Beijing's Communist Party leaders and hurt Hong Kong's judicial independence.
"We are gravely concerned that anyone extradited to China will be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment and other grave human rights violations," Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor wrote in an open letter to Ms Carrie Lam, the city's leader, yesterday.
Hong Kong's Secretary for Security John Lee told reporters last week the government had no plans to scrap the bill.
"It is not an easy decision, but it is a cautious, careful and serious decision," he said. - REUTERS
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